Sensitivity Training?

Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Romans 12:15
즐거워하는 자들로 함께 즐거워 하고 슬퍼하는 자들로 함께 슬퍼하라.

If you have not already heard about the tragedy that took place last week about 10-11 days ago near the island of Jindo in South Korea,  let me fill you in. The Sewol ferry departed Incheon port for Jeju-do island carrying about 476 passengers; more than two-thirds (325) of those on board the ferry were students from Danwon High School in Ansan, an hour's drive south of Seoul. Out of 325 second year students (11th grade) only 75 remain. 8 teachers also lost their lives. The details are very unclear, but the ferry made a sharp turn and then turned over on its side and began sinking with many of the passengers still trapped inside. Only about 175 people were rescued or able to use 1 out of the 14 or so life boats on the ferry. Many of the kids on board were trapped inside...while parents waited for them to be rescued. Reports indicate that the bodies that were able to be pulled from the ship had broken fingers...maybe from attempting to break windows or climb walls to escape. The Vice-Principal hung himself, leaving a note expressing guilt for pushing for the students to go on the trip in the first place. 
Relative Praying for a Miracle
This photo says a lot. And the many desks adorned with flowers
in the background tells you the gravity of the situation
I don't even like talking about it because it pains my heart so much to think about all those kids scrambling under water for dear life. However, I wanted to write this post because there has been a wave of insensitivity from people on the Brothas and Sistahs of South Korea Facebook page. The things that people have been saying are mean and downright wrong. Many expressed that they were tired of hearing about the sinking ferry, that the coverage was overkill. and that if it were a bunch of black kids on the ferry nobody  would care, so why should we. They have also criticized many Korean schools for cancelling field trips.

So, one girl posted the following in response to the insensitivity. The post has so far recieved 282 comments, some of which were in agreement with the post (it has since been deleted):

And then there were the following comments that were just well...

The coverage of course will not be the same in the states as it is here in Korea, but I want to know your thoughts. Can we be sensitive to others' grief even if we feel that they are not always sensitive to ours. Does freedom of speech and opinion trump empathy and sensitivity? 


  1. I read this article and for me regardless of the disproportionate coverage possibly given to other minorities or Caucasian as a human being I should feel empathy that children who could have created or brought together races, sparks of light has been extinguished. Also from recent history if I look at comments I take them with a grain of mistrust. Anyone can create a username and type a comment with anonymity looking to cause discord and division at a time when togetherness could occur. My prayers are with these families because I can't imagine sending my children on a field trip and them not coming home and thinking of the terror and suffering they had gone thru. I remember my grandmother telling me not to stoop to someone's level because then you become no better than they are.

  2. I agree with Latasha. A lot of people these days sole goal is to cause arguments. Cyber bullies are everywhere. But whether it is real or not these people are sick. I want to know if they hate Korea so much why go there to work? Why stay there to work? That seems stupid to me. These people are turning a tragedy into a personal attack on them being black. Really people? These children died! Of course, you are going to get a lot of coverage about it. You think your child is going on a simple field trip and this happens. I have a cousin whose son was killed by a drunk driver twelve years ago while on spring break in Myrtle Beach. That woman is still grieving to this day. While I do think she needs counseling I would never tell her or mention how tired I am of hearing about it. Sadly, I remember people saying the same thing over here when Sandy Hook happened. People today feel that being mean, spiteful, and hateful is acceptable.

  3. I'm getting kinda of worried right now, I'm praying for my brothers and sisters who are affected by this incident. So right now I can care less about these bullies right now. I'm more concerned about the people who died, trapped and have lost thier family members

  4. First of all let me extend my heartfelt sympathies to the families of the students and/or staff that was lost on that boat.

    Secondly, if those so called "Brothas and Sistahs"of Korea have a gripe against Korea, they should get a ticket and leave the country.. simple as that. I wish that people like the young woman who referred to us as "my people" wouldn't tell me that. I'm Black but not insensitive .She is beyond cruel and should be ashamed of herself for her insensitivity. Geez!

    1. So you're saying the girl who "called out" the people posting insensitive comments is cruel and should be ashamed of herself for saying "I'm disappointed in my people"? A lot if ppl took issue with her on that too so just asking to be sure.

    2. No. I have a tendency of overlooking things. I was actually referring to the psychos who dissed those students and staff for their loss. My apologies

  5. Forget disappointed; I'm straight-up disgusted.

    I actually spent the night meditating on my response. This is despicable. Those children not only died as children, but they died a death straight out of a horror film. I'd never wish that kind of death upon anyone. And I had been the Vice-Principal, my level of guilt and despair would also have driven me to suicide. That detail about the broken fingers broke my heart. I can only imagine being a parent and reading that. This story is literally causing me to tear up.

    I'm human and I have a conscience. I'm not only human and only with a conscience when it's only black people being hurt. And I will never give up being human and having a conscience. This tragedy is not a "Korean" tragedy. Several humans - kids, no less - died a horrific death. Several families and communities were devastated; Korea as a nation took a serious blow when that ferry went down, and people are going to be haunted by this incident for decades to come.

    So for all the Brothas and Sistahs (who are apparently nobody's brothers or sisters) who are bitching at a time like these, by all means...pack your bags and get the fuck out. In fact, let every last one of those trifling soulless pieces of shit needs to be tracked down and promptly deported. I'm getting really tired of people packing up and moving to a new country - of their own free will - and then bitching about the new country like it owes them something. News flash, ye entitled Westerners - Korea doesn't owe you shit. You are guests in their country, and in a time of tragedy. You don't like how they see you sometimes? Now's a great time to change their minds, you spoiled, selfish, narcissistic sociopaths.

  6. I'm getting really tired of people packing up and moving to a new country - of their own free will - and then bitching about the new country like it owes them something.


  7. I thought about this post for awhile as well, and I still am not really understanding this.

    When I heard the news about the ferry, all I could think about was how these poor families were never going to see their children again. Not just the high school students, but the crew members, the teachers, etc. No matter how old you are, you are someone's child. Even if you aren't close to your family, the lack of your presence is going to make someone hurt and grieve. It is terrible to read about, how they're rushing to get the bodies out before they fully decompose, how two students tied their life jackets together so they wouldn't be separated...but the diver had to separate them to bring them up. It hurts too much to hear about, so many lives lost. No just the loss of life, but the loss of potential. They had so much to look forward to.

    There is a lot of legitimate frustration that comes with living abroad, but to use a tragedy as a springboard for your grievances is completely inappropriate. If this tragedy does not effect you, no matter where you are (but especially if you are in Korea, which is your new home), I can't consider you to be a human. These peoples' comments are just helping to cement the myth (that exists within the "black community" as well) that black people are heartless and insensitive. So you wouldn't have a problem if, say, everyone who stares at you or says a hurtful comment died on a ferry as well? Perhaps they should make a black-only South Korean branch of the Westboro Baptist Church.

    1. There is a lot of legitimate frustration that comes with living abroad, but to use a tragedy as a springboard for your grievances is completely inappropriate. If this tragedy does not effect you, no matter where you are (but especially if you are in Korea, which is your new home), I can't consider you to be a human.


  8. Not even being original. Typical supremacy, internalized and re-enacted.

    "Whenever a tragedy strikes Korea, many Western observers can’t resist the urge to attribute it to Korean culture."

    "We saw culture blaming, too, when South Korean norms were incriminated for the Asiana Airlines crash in San Francisco last year, while Korean male anger and aggression served as an “explanation” for Seung-Hui Cho’s shooting spree on the Virginia Tech campus in 2007. Call it a journalistic hit: Sewol coverage transforms into a spectacle of groundless theories on how a culture is partially guilty for the wiping out of an entire sophomore class. On the surface, it appears like an innocuous and thoughtful attempt to offer insight, but at the root is the suggestion that these cultures are inferior, broken, or backwards."

    *keeps the incense burning

  9. I know this comment is late, but it is time for those who said the insensitive remarks to go home. Yes, people staring at you can be jarring, yes, pictures of racist caricatures of your group infuriating, but if the experience is that bad for you where you have to crap on a country's mourning of dead children in an accident (which by the way looks seemingly preventable if not for coward captain), then its time to go home. You have willingly put yourself in that situation to teach English in a foreign country; which by the way I will always stand by my belief that this is adding in imperialism and should not be a practice. No one twisted your arm to be there. Of course South Korean media is going to cover the latest news everyday. This is their 9-11 or Aurora. Those tragedies were covered everyday and it was known not to say out loud how you were tired of the coverage. Just take your money and go. Don't renew your contracts. I wonder how they treat their students if they are this callous towards dead children.

  10. At the very least these people have the privilege of being able to go home; although I can't speak to how much better it is being in the US versus Korea since I've never lived in the latter country. But while I could understand being critical of the coverage only focusing on white westerners, versus on-white westerners, no one should be wishing death and suffering on these people. That's absolutely cruel. It isn't like these people on the boat were klansmen or members of the Westerboro Baptist church. Perhaps they were complicit in the mistreatment and racism against black people. But using this tragedy as a springboard for cursing people out is unacceptable.

  11. My heart and mind are with the victims and their families. This tragedy could have been prevented if not for the failures of the people who made the safety protocols for the ferry and the captain whose responsibility was to lead these people who trusted in him/her. I do hope the government is making a proper effort to console those who are wounded and have had their spirits broken by this tragedy. People need to be held accountable. And if there are people still missing their bodies need to be recovered and if there is any hope others survived I hope there is a tireless search until it is known without a shadow of a doubt that all dead and living have been accounted for. Also freedom of speech does not equal "freedom to be verbally abused." I'm already having to deal with this bullshit for an unrelated event and beasts lacking empathy will say anything so that you can pay attention to them while they dehumanize you with impunity. You do not have to humor them; delete their comments for the sake of your sanity. Otherwise use it as evidence when you report their abuses. I think it's perfectly acceptable to report these people to their employers if they harbor such hostility toward the people of their host country. Even if white people have privileges they do not have that does not give them an excuse.

  12. "Can we be sensitive to others' grief even if we feel that they are not always sensitive to ours"

    yes and no, yes because u don't want to be like them and no because u don't want to be a doormat and be expected to care about others over ur own. people should either be sympathetic or keep it moving, if u don't care why even comment to say how much u don't care, it makes no sense. And also some people have been brainwashed to not care when people of color are killed but have all the sympathy in the world when whites are killed. so if these same people were crying over the white kids at sandy hook they should be crying over these kids.


Comments are no longer accepted.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.